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After the Woods Hardcover – February 23, 2016
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Julia thought she knew what evil was: Donald Jessup was the man she'd had to escape from after he attacked her and her best friend, Liv, in the woods nearly a year ago. And he's dead, killed by his own hand in jail. So why does she still feel the need to investigate her own case? Why does she keep a notebook of evidence and discoveries? When a dead body is found in those same woods, Julia starts asking more question and even lets local reporter Paula Papademitriou help her in exchange for an exclusive interview. But the information Paula unearths makes Julia rethink her memories, her relationships, and Liv's secrets. Savage offers up a mystery wrapped in a psychological breakthrough tied with the bow of lyrical language. The characters are engaging beyond their habitation of an intricately woven plot and supply readers with the motivation to care beyond the simple solving of the mystery. The mystery, in fact, almost pales in comparison to the richness of the relationships, Julia's discovery of her own strength, and the examination of the different forms of evil.
A riveting exploration of what it's like when the enemy is much closer than you suspect. (Mystery. 14-18)
From School Library Journal
Top Customer Reviews
'After the Woods' is a chilling young adult mystery/thriller novel that will have readers eagerly devouring its pages to see what will happen next. The story is unique and original with rounded characters and a plot full of unexpected twists and turns. One of the things that makes this book so different from others like it is that the story doesn't focus solely on what happened while our main character, Julia, was in the woods. It deals almost entirely with what happens in Julia's life after she was rescued. I found this to be a refreshing vantage point and it didn't take away from the suspense at all. Julia - our main character and narrator - was taken into the woods by a dangerous man and stayed there for 48 hours. We learn bits and pieces of what happened during that time as Julia experiences flashbacks that allow her to remember details of those days that had been previously locked away in her mind. I loved trying to decipher all of the memories and figure out what happened before the characters do - it's one of the many reasons why I love this genre so much.
Aside from the flashbacks and details of what happened to Julia in the woods, we get to see how the experience changed her and Liv - the friend she rescued from the attacker. This was a very intriguing part of the book and I enjoyed seeing how the experience had changed each girl. During this part of the novel, we are able to see the real life consequences Julia and Liv must deal with every day. It speaks in detail about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and how the trauma impacted Julia's life and changed her in so many ways. I really liked that the author included this topic in the book because it's so relevant to the story and to today's society.Read more ›
MY FULL REVIEWS:
Sometimes I read a book that's so compelling, I start and can't stop until I'm finished. The sign of an even better novel is when I keep stopping, because that story is so mesmerizing I can't bear the thought of finishing. AFTER THE WOODS grabbed me by the throat as I fell in love with Julia, who saved her best friend Liv from a madman only to have been captured for two harrowing days before escaping herself.
But AFTER THE WOODS is so much more than a story of survival. Debut writer Kim Savage masterfully wove mystery and intrigue into this psychological thriller as Julia learns that her kidnapping may have been more complicated than a random act of violence. Nobody wants her asking questions. Not her mother. Not Liv. Not even her therapist. The only one who seems to support her quest is a reporter trying to stay relevant.
Savage created a sympathetic character in Julia, multidimensional and complex. Liv's mother was the only flat character, but her narcissism was so delicious she was impossible not to love-to-hate.
I could figure out some of the angles, but that only added to my enjoyment because of the psychological component to AFTER THE WOODS. Kim Savage is on my radar as an author I will preorder under any circumstance.
NOT your typical thriller. It doesn't rely on well-worn plot devices or sickening details to draw you in, though it doesn't shy away from what's difficult. The tight writing, unpredictable plot, emotional complexity and fascinating characters are what kept me reading and reading.
I experienced the characters, not as the usual mystery/ thriller stereotypes ("damaged victim"; "guilty survivor"; "ruthless journalist", "psycho loner" etc.) but as real people who had very different, layered motivations for what they did in the past and are doing now. Some of the writing was so deeply poignant, such as when we are taken inside the home of the criminal's mother, that it disturbed me even more deeply than some of the more apparent crimes in the book. The crime of anyone being so lonely, so uncared for as the woman in that scene is all the more scary because it's more probable some among us may actually experience it, as opposed to being abducted in the woods! Each and every character received this remarkable treatment; a peeling away of surface after surface until something unexpected makes you have to pause and read it over again!
Savage's clear, discerning eye and deft writing present us with many truths. Then we're allowed to decide for ourselves how we feel about them.
A sharp story that goes deep and stays with you. I'm still thinking about it.
***THIS REVIEW MAY HAVE SPOILERS***
Julia and her "best friend" Liv encounter a man in the woods while jogging. Liv is attacked, and in an effort to save her, Julia exchanges her life for her friend's, only once the trade is made, Liv leaves Julia behind. This sounded compelling, and it was at first. Julia is eventually rescued and now we catch up with her as she tries to pick up on life after her kidnapping,which means hovering vigilance from her mother, constant media attention, and the oblivious ambivalence of Liv. I was flipping through the pages as quickly as I could. Kim Savage's writing is twisty and compelling, and she makes Julia's voice strong. There's a scene where she talks to someone about her abduction that hit all the right notes with me. This was the best part of the book.
But my issues with the plot were rampant. As much as you sympathize with Julia, she is an unreliable narrator. This is both a pro and a con: you understand why she hides behind sarcasm with everyone close to her, but at the same time it's a crutch because she's keeping everyone who wants to help her at a distance. She trusts a local reporter more than her own mother because the reporter treats her like a person, only with tough consequences after.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a good, albeit very strange book. I like premises like these, books in a genre like this one. It was fast-paced, violent, disturbing. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Sarah Russell
This is a YA psychological thriller for young adults, with a bit of a twist at the end meant to surprise the reader, but in reality, it's pretty obvious. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Meghan
At once a twisty psychological thriller, an exploration of the shifting boundaries of friendship, and the story of two teenage girls attempting to navigate the toxic situations... Read morePublished 26 days ago by Kathleen MacMillan
I guess After the Woods is at heart, closest to a psychological thriller, but it definitely deviates from the norm(much like the characters in the book). Read morePublished 1 month ago by Stormy
After the Woods by Kim Savage was a compelling look into the after effects of trauma on a young girl and her family and friends. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf
Some books stick with you for all the right reasons. Some don’t. After reading “After the Woods,” however, I’m having a hard time deciding what category the novel falls into. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jessica at Cracking the Cover
I enjoyed this somewhat. It was so off and on for me. The synopsis sounded very good. Which it was still good, but it just wasnt perfect to me. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kristi Hulsey
Loved this book. Could not put it down. A different kind of thriller with interesting twists and turns that kept me engaged and the pages turning. Great work, Kim Savage!Published 3 months ago by uofg
Julia sacrificed herself for her best friend Liv, when she catches up to her friend in the woods during a run, to find Liv being held down. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Lupine Smile